Visiting the Carbon Capture Facility on Iceland

Why planting trees is not enough

Marjan Krebelj

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I have always been intrigued by the technology that sucks carbon dioxide out of the air and stores it in the ground. How does it work? Is it effective, and can it be employed at scale? Greta visited it just days before the lockdown, so there must be something to it, right?

When planning for this trip, I emailed our guide to ask if we could make a short unscheduled stop at the Carbfix facility, which not only accepts guests but also has a visitor center with many educational displays. Luckily, he said yes, and the rest of the group was okay with it.

Carbfix from the distance. Photo by author.

You approach the Carbfix facility by driving eastwards from Reykjavik. You can see it from afar since there is a lot of water vapor rising into the sky. At the heart of the facility is a geothermal power plant that provides electricity and hot water, not only for the process in question but, more importantly, for the Icelandic inhabitants who rely on geothermal energy. It is somewhat surprising to see that Icelandic houses (for the most part) lack any combustion furnaces inside, despite their chilling climate. It is even more astounding how little thought they spend on proper thermal insulation, given that energy is so cheap for them. But let’s brush that aside for now.

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Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.